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Ancient DNA Shows Cats Domesticated Themselves – Why Are We Not Surprised?

Discussion in 'Pets & Animals' started by Michie, Mar 5, 2021.

  1. Michie

    Michie Human rights begin in the womb. Supporter

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    Domestication of animals was an amazing feat that changed human relationships with the natural world.

    But while a Pomeranian looks nothing like a wolf, a thoroughbred jump horse looks nothing like a wild pony, and a potbellied pig looks nothing like a black boar, ‘domestic’ house cats look pretty much exactly like wild cats.

    That’s because they domesticated themselves—not through form, but through function, and research reveals that wildcat ancestors share essentially the same genetics as house cats today.


    The two lineages of cats—the European forest cat (felis silvestris silvestris) and Southwest Asia/North African wildcat (felis silvestris lybica)—are solitary hunters that lack any strong social hierarchy, which would make them poor candidates for domestication by humans, to start with.

    It was the cat, itself, who came to prize the territory around the homes of the ancient farmer, or the wharf of the ancient mariner. They were drawn to a plentiful supply of prey in the form of rodents—which brought their species and ours to be inseparably linked.

    A study from 2017 looked at the genetics of over 200 cats, from all five wild subspecies, along with cat remains from stone age Romania, and even Egyptian cat mummies, and found that f. lybica in the Near East in 4,400 BCE, and in North Africa around 1,500 BCE, gave rise to the domestic cat, likely because it was here where the earliest agricultural civilizations occurred.

    Continued below.
    Ancient DNA Shows Cats Domesticated Themselves – Why Are We Not Surprised?
     
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